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Gay Japanese erotica from the 17th-19th centuries (NSFW)
06.14.2017
10:22 am
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Miyagawa Chōshun (1683-1753) - scenes from ‘A Rare and Important Nanshoku Shunga Handscroll.’
 
Not all Japanese art is cherry blossoms, surging waves, and exotic birds, there is a whole world of shunga or erotica filed away among Japan’s beautiful canvases, silks, and scrolls kept by museums and in private collections.

Shunga’s popularity really started during the Edo Period 1603-1868 when the country was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. This rise in popularity stemmed largely from the dominant male population which had massively increased as a result of the high number of samurai/retainers required to guard provincial lords and their estates and maintain law and order, and through the surge in agricultural laborers required to produce the food to feed this large population. To get an idea of what we’re talking about, the city of Edo—the former name for Tokyo—had a population of one million by 1721. This made Edo the largest city on the planet. But what’s more staggering is that seventy percent (70%) of the city’s population were male. This meant a lot of horny blokes looking for good wank material.

Apparently, the word shunga means “pictures of spring”—spring being a euphemism for erotica probably as in the English equivalent “the joys of spring.” (If you can’t figure that out, I’m not going to explain it for you.) Though shunga was predominantly used by men, it was very popular with the ladies, too. It was also considered very lucky or at least a bringer of good fortune to those who carried a shunga scroll on their person.

When it came to sex, the Japanese have always been far more liberated than most other countries. Indeed, homosexuality and lesbianism have a long history in Japan going way back to ancient times—long before people started documenting such pleasures. In fact, gay sex was AOK in Japan up until 1872 when sodomy was briefly outlawed. This was quickly repealed in 1880. However, as of 2000, sexual orientation is not protected by national civil rights laws which means the LGBT community do not have any recourse to legal protection against discriminations—so much for progress… I guess it’s a mixed bag there.

While most shunga is heterosexually oriented, there is a wealth of gay shunga featuring samurais and old Buddhist masters indulging in sex with young males—often dressed as geishas. These illustrations were called nanshoku or “male colors” a term used to describe the man-on-man action which depicted (usually) idealized pin-ups from the worlds of ancient myth, the military, religion, theater, class, and last but not least, prostitution.
 
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Miyagawa Chōshun - scenes from ‘A Rare and Important Nanshoku Shunga Handscroll.’
 
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Miyagawa Chōshun.
 
More gay Japanese erotica, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.14.2017
10:22 am
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A Billy Nicholls LP recently sold for $10,000, so, um, who the hell IS this guy???
06.13.2017
03:01 pm
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I have a pretty strict rule for record shopping. Anything that catches my fancy can go in the bag for any reason, but there’s a $30 per platter limit. Not $31.99, not $30.01, $30, period. This applies to new AND used vinyl, and it’s kept me on the terra firma side of some potentially stupid financial cliffs. The specific figure was a compromise I devised to let me possess an original copy of PiL’s 3X12” Metal Box so long as I got one VG+ for $90 or less (which wasn’t so difficult—in fact I landed one on a routine dig for $75), but to keep me from impulse-spending idiotic cash on rarities I would probably barely listen to and only keep around as useless trophies of successful hunts.

Hence, I find the very idea of a record worth thousands of dollars utterly absurd and even a bit sickening, especially when the CD version can be had for a buck or two—sorry “connoisseurs,” but if you care $1,000 more about the format than the song, you’re not a music lover, you’re a baseball card collector—but the obsession still fascinates me, because I know I’m a part of the pathology. The main difference is in the degree of restraint to which I hold myself, and not because I’ve such a strong and resolute character, but because I know I don’t.

So I’m always interested to read the blog posts on discogs.com running down the highest sale prices logged in its music media marketplace. Oftentimes such sought-after items are deep obscurities of genuine archival interest, but a lot of the time it’s some asshole who unaccountably blew over $1,600 (actual recent sale price) on an O.G. copy of Earth A.D. just because he could (and it’s invariably a “he”), even though multiple subsequent pressings are plentifully available in the $5-10 ballpark. But recently a staggering $10,300 became the new going rate for Would You Believe, the 1968 debut album by a British songwriter named Billy Nicholls.

Part of this is accounted for by the particular copy’s condition (excellent), and part by extreme scarcity—it was never actually released, so only about 100 copies exist, all of them promos, and one went for £7,312 (ballpark of $9,000 USD) in 2009. Nicholls himself isn’t exactly an unknown figure, in fact his decades-long career is still going. His “I Can’t Stop Loving You (Though I Try)” had been a hit in the ‘70s, ‘80s AND ‘oughts by artists as head-swimmingly diverse as Leo Sayer, The Outlaws, Phil Collins, and Keith Urban, and Nicholls has often collaborated with Pete Townshend.
 

 
But enough about his behind-the-scenes bona fides, the story of Would You Believe is a quite captivating one. Nicholls’ talents were singled out by erstwhile Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham after his falling-out with that band, and like Chas Chandler going all in on Jimi Hendrix, Oldham devoted significant energies to making Nicholls a very big deal. From The Rising Storm:

The single [“Would You Believe”] has been described as “the most over-produced record of the sixties”, and with reason; a modest psych-pop love song, it’s swathed in overblown orchestration including baroque strings, harpsichord, banjo (!), tuba (!!), and demented answer-back vocals from Steve Marriott. A trifle late for the high tide of UK psych, it failed to trouble the charts. Unfazed, Oldham and Nicholls pressed on with the album, Nicholls providing a steady stream of similarly well-crafted ditties and a bevy of top-rated London session men providing the backings, thankfully with somewhat more subtlety than on the prototype cut. The album was ready for pressing just as the revelation of Oldham’s reckless financial overstretch brought about Immediate’s overnight demise, and only about a hundred copies ever made it to wax, most of which somehow surfaced in Sweden. The album became one of the mythical lost albums of the sixties, and original copies now fetch over a grand in GBP.

The record was intended by Oldham to be an acutely British answer to Pet Sounds—evidently nobody told him about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band—and a look at the session details confirms that Oldham was NOT fucking around. Studio musicians for the sessions included members and future members of bands like The Small Faces, Humble Pie, and Led Zeppelin, plus Stones/Kinks pianist Nicky Hopkins. But not unlike The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, its Edwardian harpsichord whimsy, sunshiney loopiness, and baroque production saw a release date just a hair too late for the initial psych moment, after rock music had moved on to harder stuff, so it’s hard to say it would have done well even if it had been released (Village Green is rightly regarded as a classic NOW, but remember, it totally tanked in its day).

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.13.2017
03:01 pm
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Slave to Love: The strange fetishized romance between a Victorian Gentleman and a Servant
06.13.2017
09:54 am
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Servant and Master: Hannah Cullwick and Arthur Munby.
 
Arthur Munby was a lawyer, civil servant, flâneur, and minor poet. Hannah Cullwick was a maid of all work—the lowliest of all servants. When they met each other by chance on Oxford Street, London in 1854, the pair began an obsessive and fetishistic relationship that lasted for over fifty years—until Hannah’s death in 1909.

Munby was a middle-class gentleman. He was therefore expected to perform his role as a gentleman by the class codes of Victorian society. Munby was respectable and seemingly decent but he had a dark secret—he was a voyeur who was deeply aroused by the appearance of grimy working-class women. He loved their hard, masculine shape. Their muscles, their scars, and deformities. He had one particular obsession for poor women who had lost their noses through accident or by disease. Munby photographed many of these women claiming it was part of his “studies” into working-class life.

Hannah was of yeoman stock. She started work as a servant girl at the age of fourteen. Her father had run several businesses which had failed. This meant Hannah was sent away to work as a drudge. But Hannah had a fetish for work. The dirtier, nastier, more degrading, the more she enjoyed it. She often stripped naked to clean out chimneys, sitting on a rafter high up in the chimney surrounded by and covered in hot smoldering soot.

It seemed this pair were somehow destined to meet.

There were two important events that pushed Hannah towards her relationship with Munby. She often read fortunes using tea leaves for her fellow servants. One day she saw the face of her future suitor—a respectable, bearded gentleman. It seemed highly unlikely that Hannah would ever enjoy a relationship with such a man, but she felt it might one day happen. The second event was when she attended a performance of the theatrical spectacle The Death of Sardanapalus. Based on the celebrated poem by Lord Byron, The Death of Sardanapalus tells the story of the love of a slave Myrrha for the weak king Sardanapalus:

Master, I am your slave! Man, I have loved!—
Loved you, I know not by what fatal weakness,
Although a Greek, and a born a foe to Monarchs—
A slave, and hating fetters—an Ionian,
And, therefore, when I love a stranger, more
Degraded by that passion than by chains!
Still I have loved you…

Hannah identified totally with Myrrha—who although a slave was free in her love.

On May 26th, 1854, Munby stopped Hannah on the street and quizzed her about her work as a servant. Hannah recognized Munby as the face she had seen foretold in her tea leaves. It was literally a love at first sight. Munby asked Hannah to write to him describing in exact detail every aspect of her work. Munby expressed an interested in the more degrading, demeaning, and physically dirty details—how Hannah’s skin would be smeared with soot and grime, how the work exhausted her.

Hannah wrote Munby every week. She also kept a diary, which she read to him when they met. Together they played out roles. She called Munby “Massa” and wore a dog’s collar to show she was his slave. He measured her biceps (fourteen inches) and hands (four inches) and allowed himself to be carried by her around his home as if he were a child or baby. Hannah also had a fetish for cleaning Munby’s shoes with her tongue—claiming she could tell where “Massa” had been by the taste of the soil on his soles.

Munby photographed Hannah in her various roles—as a maid, blacked-up as a chimney sweep, dressed as a man, and as a middle-class lady in a fine dress. Munby’s love for Hannah led to his proposing marriage. Hannah was at first against this suggestion as she felt it would finish her sense of empowerment over Munby. Eventually, she relented and the couple married in secret in 1873.

But Hannah was stifled by their marriage and the pleasure she had once found in being a servant, a slave to Munby was gone. She left their home and returned to work as a servant in the north of England. However, their secret, obsessive relationship continued well into old age with secret meetings and a flurry of letters sent between the two.

During one of their last meetings, Hannah prostrated herself in front of Munby and licked his boots clean. Munby was embarrassed and pulled Hannah up to kiss the “sweetness of her lips—her country lips which [had] the velvet touch.” Though they unquestionably loved each other, it seems unlikely that their relationship was ever consummated. Their sexual pleasure appears to have been solely derived from their role-playing and the strange power games of master and servant.

As Munby was a respectable middle-class man, and Hannah a lowly servant, their taboo relationship and their marriage remained secret throughout their lives. Hannah died exhausted and senile in 1909, Munby died the following year. At the reading of his will, the full story and extent of their love for each other was revealed. A box containing hundreds of photographs, letters, and diaries between husband and wife was offered to the British Museum who refused it on moral grounds. This box was then given to Trinity College, Cambridge, under the proviso it was not to be opened until 1950.
 
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Hannah cleaning boots.
 
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Hannah blacked-up from cleaning the soot from chimneys.
 
More photographs of Hannah Cullwick plus a short film, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.13.2017
09:54 am
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Grateful Dead seen in San Francisco local news footage at famous ‘Death of a Hippie’ ceremony, 1967
06.09.2017
12:57 pm
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In the spring of 1967 a tourist bus to transport curious gawkers through the new “hippie” district of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco sprang into existence. The bus actually drew a great deal of attention at the time, including derisive commentary from newspaper columnist Herb Caen and Hunter S. Thompson as mentioned in this DM article from two years ago. This was perhaps the most noteworthy manifestation of the media frenzy that descended on the city of San Francisco in 1967.

After the famous Summer of Love had come and gone and a reported 100,000 young people descended on the heart of Haight-Ashbury, the local residents began to tire of the hubbub. R. Crumb was exercising his usual skepticism of idealism but also probably simply reporting accurately when he commented:
 

The Haight-Ashbury was appealing. ... It was much more open than any other place. But the air was so thick with bullshit you could cut it with a knife. Guys were running around saying, “I’m you and you are me and everything is beautiful, so get down and suck my dick.” These young middle-class kids were just too dumb about it. It was just too silly. It had to be killed.

 
Thus it was that a group calling itself the Diggers arranged a mock wake and a mock funeral to mark the death of “Hippie, devoted son of Mass Media,” as the sardonic invitation had it. The event was scheduled for Friday, October 6, 1967.
 

 
As the Berkeley Barb reported just hours before the funeral, “Purpose of exorcism is to ‘free the boundaries of the Haight-Ashbury district’ and destroy the ‘we/they’ concept inherent in the idea of ‘hip’ community according to one member of the Committee for Community.”
 

 
It’s stated at the end there that Ron Thelin would also be closing the Psychedelic Bookshop “for good.” The Psychedelic Bookshop had been an important epicenter for the hippie movement, so the decision of Thelin and his brother Jay to shut down the store on the same day as the hippie funeral surely marked the end of an era.

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.09.2017
12:57 pm
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The Algiers Motel Incident: Detroit police play murderous ‘death game’ with teens during 1967 riot
06.08.2017
02:37 pm
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The Algiers Motel Incident
 
At 2:00 am on July 26th, 1967, the Detroit Police Department received a call: “At the Algiers Motel, check for dead persons.” When police arrived, they found the bodies of three black teenagers. It was Day 4 of rioting in the city, which would prove to be one of the most damaging community events in American history. What became known as “the Algiers Motel incident” is the most infamous episode to take place during the uprising.

There were a number of issues in the city of Detroit that led to the July 1967 rebellion (it’s still debated how the event should be categorized), but police brutality—namely the use of violence by the largely white police force against the city’s majority black residents—was front and center. During the early hours of July 23rd, police raided a blind pig located at 12th Street and Clairmount Avenue on the city’s near west-side. As rumors circulated that officers had beaten some of those arrested, a young black man threw a rock at a cop car. It wasn’t long before someone broke a store window and people began looting. Hundreds of fires were set over the next few days, as residents clashed with local and state police, and eventually the National Guard, while looting continued. On July 27th, order was restored and the disturbance officially ended. All told, they were over 7,000 arrests, nearly 1,200 injuries, and 43 people died. Many of those who lost their lives were killed because they were—mistakenly—thought to have been snipers.
 
12th Street, July 23rd, 1967
12th Street, July 23rd, 1967.

National Guardsmen and city residents
National Guardsmen, with weapons drawn, as city residents look on.

A National Guardsman watches for snipers
A National Guardsman watches for snipers amidst the chaos.

Not long after midnight on the morning of July 26th, sniper fire was reported coming from the area around the Algiers Motel—specifically the Algiers manor house, which was adjacent to the Woodward Avenue motel on Virginia Park Street. Police and National Guardsmen moved in quickly on the manor. By the time law enforcement left the scene, Aubrey Pollard, 19, Fred Temple, 18, and Carl Cooper, 17, were dead. Five days later, the Detroit News broke the story. In his 1968 book on the subject, The Algiers Motel Incident, author John Hersey noted what had become evident.

It is by now, on Monday, July 31, clear that the killings in the Algiers were not executions of snipers, looters, or arsonists caught red-handed in felonious crimes in the heat of a riot, but rather that they were murders embellished by racist abuse, indiscriminate vengeance, sexual jealousy, voyeurism, wanton blood-letting, and sadistic physical and mental tortures characterized by the tormentors as ‘a game.’

The Algiers Motel Incident was written quickly and was controversial upon release; Hersey received much in the way of criticism for its seemingly haphazard structure. Reading it nearly fifty years after it was published, I would argue that the narrative is purposeful, with often powerful results. Hersey interviewed everyone he could, including traumatized witnesses, distraught family members, and, incredibly, the security guard and three police officers suspected of wrongdoing. The book is undeniably harrowing and heartbreaking.
 
Aubrey Pollard's parents
Aubrey Pollard’s parents: Aubrey Pollard, Sr. and Rebecca Pollard. Their grief is palpable in the pages of ‘The Algiers Motel Incident.’

When I’m not writing for Dangerous Minds, I’m working as an archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library, which is a part of Wayne State University in Detroit. Danielle L. McGuire, an associate professor in the history department at Wayne State, has been conducting research at the Reuther for a book she is writing on the Algiers episode. Her essay, “Murder at the Algiers Motel,” has been included in the new anthology, Detroit 1967, published by Wayne State University Press. We have an excerpt from Danielle’s stirring account of the waking nightmare that was the Algiers Motel incident.

 
The Algiers Motel
View of the Algiers Motel, with the manor in the background, July 1967.

In the early-morning hours of July 26, 1967, a flurry of Detroit police officers, National Guardsmen, and state police officers, led by Senak and two of his colleagues, raided the Algiers Motel after hearing reports of heavy “sniper fire” nearby. The Algiers, a once-stately manor house in the Virginia Park neighborhood of central Detroit, was a relatively seedy place, what Hersey described as a “transient” hotel, with a reputation among police as a site for narcotics and prostitution. But that night, because of the uprising and citywide curfew, many people sought refuge at the Algiers, including two white runaways from Ohio, a returning Vietnam veteran, and the friends and members of the Dramatics, a doo-wop group who performed songs like “Inky Dinky Wang Dang Do” at the Swinging Time Revue, headlined by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, downtown at the Fox Theater.

According to one witness quoted in the Detroit News on August 2, it was a “night of horror and murder.” Just past midnight, police and soldiers tore through the motel’s tattered halls and run-down rooms with shotguns and rifles. They ransacked closets and drawers, turned over beds and tables, shot into walls and chairs, and brutalized motel guests in a desperate and vicious effort to find the “sniper.” At some point during this initial raid, David Senak and Patrolman Robert Paille encountered Fred Temple, a teen on the phone with his girlfriend. Senak and Paille barged into the room, startling Temple, who dropped the phone. According to Senak, quoted in Sidney Fine’s Violence in the Model City, he and Paille fired “almost simultaneously” at Temple, who crumpled to the ground in a pool of blood.

When Senak and Paille failed to find any weapons, Senak ordered all the guests against the wall in the first-floor lobby. One of the young black men at the hotel that night, seventeen-year-old Carl Cooper, rushed down the stairs and came face-to-face with a phalanx of heavily armed police and guardsmen. A witness, quoted in a report by Detective Inspector Albert Schwaller, heard Cooper say, “Man, take me to jail—I don’t have any weapon,” just before hearing the gunshot that tore through his chest.

Police herded the other guests, a group of young black men and two white women, past Cooper’s bloody corpse, into the gray and beige magnolia- papered lobby, and told them to face the east wall with their hands over their heads. Even though two young men were already dead, the lineup was the beginning of what Hersey called the “death game.”

The details of exactly what happened next are complicated and convoluted—clear memories forever lost to the chaos of the moment, the tricks of time, and the disparate recollections of the survivors traumatized by violence and terror. But this is the gist of what we know: three Detroit policemen, David Senak, Ronald August, and Robert Paille, and a private guard, Melvin Dismukes, took charge of the brutal interrogation. They wanted to know who had the gun, who was the sniper, and who was doing the shooting.

 
Federal conspiracy trial
L-R: Ronald August, Melvin Dismukes, Robert Paille and David Senak. Federal conspiracy trial, February 25th, 1970.

When the young men and women who were lined up against the wall denied shooting or having any weapons, the officers mercilessly beat them, leaving gashes and knots on the victims’ heads and backs. According to another witness interviewed by Schwaller, a police officer “struck [a] Negro boy so hard that it staggered [him] and almost sent him down to his knees.” A military policeman, part of the contingent of federal paratroopers and National Guardsmen sent to help restore order in Detroit, who arrived at the Algiers in the midst of the raid, is cited by Fine as seeing a Detroit patrolman “stick a shotgun between the legs of one male and threaten to ‘blow his testicles off.’” Senak and his colleagues raged against the two white women working as prostitutes at the Algiers, Karen Malloy and Juli Hysell, calling them “white niggers” and “nigger lovers.” Both women testified that police ripped off their dresses, pushed their faces against the wall, and smashed guns into the their temples and the small of their backs. Roderick Davis, the stocky Dramatics singer who sported a stylish conk and moustache, told Hersey that Senak sneered, “Why you got to fuck them? What’s wrong with us?” Another witness told Schwaller that he heard one of the cops say, “We’re going to get rid of all you pimps and whores.”

Then, the “death game” really began. The police pulled the unarmed men one by one into different rooms and interrogated them at gunpoint. Davis told Schwaller that Senak took him into a room, forced him to lie down, and then shot into the floor. “I’ll kill you if you move,” Senak said as he left the room and returned to the lobby.

 
Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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06.08.2017
02:37 pm
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Tijuana Bibles: Cheap, nasty, porno comic books featuring Mickey, Donald, Popeye, & more (Very NSFW)
06.06.2017
10:24 am
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Tijuana Bibles were eight-page, hand-sized comic books featuring well-known cartoon characters, sporting heroes, and Hollywood film stars in a sequence of hardcore sexual shenanigans. They first appeared sometime in the 1920s as illustrated dirty jokes featuring squeaky clean comic strip characters like Tillie the Toiler and Jiggs and Maggie from “Bringing Up Baby.” The more straightlaced the character, the more outrageous the smut.

Their instant success led to far more explicit hardcore tales featuring famous movie stars like Mae West, Robert Mitchum, Dorothy Lamour, Greta Garbo, even Laurel & Hardy, alongside such well-loved cartoon figures as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Popeye and Betty Boop porking the fuck out of everything that moved. They were cheap titillation intended to arouse and (in their own way) educate the virginal. They were subversive and offensively humorous.

The name “Tijuana Bible” came from the mistaken belief these comics were produced south of the border and smuggled into the USA. They were actually produced and printed in the States by local artists and independent businesses who hid behind fake publishing titles like “London Press” and “Tobasco Publishing Co.” They were sold under-the-counter in tobacco shops, bars, barbers and bowling alleys at 25 cents a pop. Their greatest popularity was during the Depression of the 1930s, eventually petering out with the arrival of real porn mags in the 1950s. Tijuana Bibles are now considered by many comic book historians to be among the very first underground comix. More importantly, these cheaply produced comic books helped unfetter sex and sexuality from the weight of societal and religious strictures of guilt and taboo by making sex seem fun, natural, and something to be greatly enjoyed.

A man called Quinn has scanned a whole selection of these “politically incorrect literary gems” which can be viewed here.
 
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More examples of Tijuana Bibles, after the jump..

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.06.2017
10:24 am
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Skeletal remains: The first accurate representation of ‘The Anatomy of Bones’ from 1733
06.05.2017
10:43 am
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Bones. This is what we come to once we’re dead and the soft tissue has gone. Bones. The sturdy architecture that shapes and protects our bodies. Most of us will end up as dust or ashes, or if very, very lucky, may one day become fossilized and exhibited in a museum as an example of a dumb 21st-century Homosapien. There’s nothing else once we’re dead. No seventy-two virgins (or is it dried fruit?), no Alleluia chorus, no wings and no harp, just the remnants of a structure that once held us together.

Humans are born with 270 bones which gradually fuse during childhood to become the 206 individual bones of adulthood. Bones are damned amazing things. They are tough, flexible, and protective. They are made of a composite of materials including collagen fibers and calcium phosphate. In 1733, William Cheselden (1688-1752) published his Osteographia or The Anatomy of Bones—a lavish and beautifully illustrated book of human and comparative osteology. It was the first fully accurate description of the human skeletal system. Cheselden was already renowned for his previous volume The Anatomy of the Human Body (1713) and now hoped to do for bones what he had done for the flesh.

Cheselden was a surgeon and teacher based in London. He was appointed surgeon at St Thomas’ Hospital in 1720 and then at St George’s Hospital in 1733. His specialty was in the removal of bladder stones, though he later became far better known for his work in eye surgery, especially the removal of cataracts. He was also surgeon to Queen Caroline. As a teacher, Cheselden wanted to share as much of his medical knowledge and experience as possible.

For the Osteographia, Cheselden employed two artists, Gerard Vandergucht and Jacob Schijnvoet, to illustrate the anatomy of bones. To ensure accuracy in the illustrations, Cheselden made use of a camera obscura which transposed the image of each bone onto paper for the artists to copy. However, many of the skeletons were presented in strange so-called realistic positions—for example the skeleton of a cat arching its back at the sight of an approaching dog, or a man kneeling down praying. This was achieved by wiring the skeletons into position, which more often than not detracted from any attempt at factual representation. Thus the book proved to be a failure, though today Cheselden’s Osteographia is considered one of the great historical works of art and science.

Those with an interest can view the whole book here.
 
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More of dem bones, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.05.2017
10:43 am
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Tattoo You: Meet Victorian England’s first tattoo artist
06.02.2017
10:40 am
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Everyone likes to be first. Historians and other seekers of cultural truffles always like to uncover the first person who did this, or the first person who invented that, or the first person who outraged society by doing something utterly daring which even today some may think of as being socially dangerous.

Sutherland Macdonald (1860-1942) is now considered as “the first identifiable professional tattooist” in England. Sutherland was the first professional tattooist to run a tattoo parlor out of premises at 76 Jermyn Street, London. He was also the first man to be registered as a “tattooist” in the London Post Office Directory in 1894. While there may have been many tattooers across the land, Macdonald was the first “tattooist” simply because he was the man who devised the word. Tattooist is a shortening of the term “tattoo artist.” Macdonald preferred the title “tattooist” to “tattooer” as it sounded more upmarket, more professional, and far more descriptive for the talents of an artist who drew pictures on the skin.

Macdonald started his career while serving with the British Army during the Anglo-Zulu War in the 1870s. On return to England, he set up his first tattoo parlor sometime around 1880-82 in the military town of Aldershot, a place best known as the “Home of the British Army.” Macdonald was a very talented artist which together with his connections in the army made for his success. As George Burchett, a rival tattooist, later wrote in his memoirs:

[Macdonald] had already tattooed officers in many of the famous regiments, including the Brigade of Guards. One of his earliest clients, Lord Byng of Vimy, when a young officer in the 10th Hussare, introduced Macdonald to scores of young bloods in his circle. When Macdonald exchanged his sergeant-major’s uniform for the white coat of a full-time tattoo artist he was already assured of a good following.

By 1889, Macdonald had moved his business from Aldershot to a small basement parlor under the Hamam Turkish Baths off the main drag of gentleman’s clubs on Jermyn Street, London. He offered his customers any design (“Heraldic, Sporting, Oriental”) at fixed prices and claimed he operated “Under the Patronage of the Highest Imperial and Royal Personages in Europe.” The rumor that he had inked royalty made Macdonald’s tattoo parlor exceedingly popular with the patriotic Victorian public. As Burchett wrote:

For nearly forty years crowned heads and famous people climbed the narrow staircase in Jermyn Street to visit Macdonald and to leave bearing some of the most wonderful ornaments ever placed on human skin. A well spoken, intelligent and gentle man, Sutherland Macdonald made friends of his customers, who treated him as an equal.

Apart form his dazzling skill as a tattoo artist, Macdonald also patented an electric tattooing machine (patent #3035) in 1894. He is now considered as “one of the greatest artists in the history of tattooing.” And from the examples below, one can understand why.
 
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See more fantastic works by the first ‘tattooist,’ after the jump….
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.02.2017
10:40 am
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The look of love: Rarely-seen intimate pics of Freddie Mercury and his partner Jim
06.01.2017
09:51 am
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Jim Hutton and Freddie Mercury with Dorothy the cat, Munich 1986.
 
The first time Jim Hutton met Freddie Mercury, he told him to “fuck off.” They were in the Copacabana, a gay club in the basement of a hotel in South Kensington, one weekend in late 1983. Jim was at the bar with his lover, John Alexander, drinking from a can of lager. When John went to the lavatory, Freddie pushed his way through the crowd and offered to buy Jim a drink. Jim, who had almost a full can in his hand, said, “No, thank you.” When Freddie then asked what he was doing that night, Jim told him to “Fuck off.” Freddie quietly wandered back to join his friends.

When John returned, Jim told him someone had just tried to chat him up. John asked, “Who?” Jim pointed him out—a slight figure with a mustache in jeans and a white t-shirt. He wasn’t Jim’s type—he preferred his men “bigger and butcher.” John was dumbfounded. Didn’t he know who that was? “That’s Freddie Mercury,” he said. “Freddie who?” The name meant nothing to Jim, who carried on sipping his beer.

Eighteen months later, on Saturday, March 23rd, 1985, Jim had been out drinking for most of the day. Instead of going home to his rented rooms in Sutton, he decided to spend his last five quid on a night out in Heaven—the large gay nightclub at Charing Cross. Usually, Jim didn’t go to clubs like Heaven. He thought they were too large, anonymous, and noisy. But that night, he wanted to dance. As he stood at the bar, a slight figure slipped in beside him and offered to buy him a drink. It was that bloke from the Copacabana again, Freddie whatsit? Slightly tipsy, Jim’s defenses were down and he offered to buy Freddie a drink. “A large vodka,” came the reply. There went most of Jim’s five quid.

Freddie then asked, “How big’s your dick?” It was his usual opening gambit. Jim ignored him saying something like, “Well, you’ll have to find out,” before telling the singer to drop the phony American accent. “But I don’t have an American accent.” Freddie protested before inviting Jim to join him and his friends.

What Jim didn’t know was that Freddie had spent part of the previous eighteen months checking up on him. He had found out where Jim drank and would send one of his assistants in to see if he was at the bar. Freddie liked men who looked like burly truck drivers. Though Jim didn’t quite fit that bill—he was a hairdresser—he did have the look that Freddie found utterly desirable.

Freddie invited Jim back to his apartment on Stafford Terrace, where they eventually fell drunkenly into bed, cuddling and talking until they fell asleep. When they awoke, they continued talking where they left off. Freddie made Jim tea, then they exchanged phone numbers. It was the start of their relationship that lasted until Freddie’s untimely death in November 1991.

Long before same-sex marriage ceremonies, Freddie called Jim his husband and they exchanged rings. Freddie wore his until the day he died.

I met Jim a few times when I was producing a documentary on Freddie’s friendship with Kenny Everett in 2002. He was a charming, warm-hearted and genuinely kind man. Straightforward, down-to-earth, and instantly likable. It was easy to see why Freddie fell for him. Jim sadly died in 2010.

The following photographs give some idea of the great love Jim and Freddie had for each other. The pictures come mainly from Jim’s personal collection, many of which were included in his memoir about Freddie, Mercury and Me.
 
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The very first time Freddie Mercury took Jim Hutton to see his home Garden Lodge, 1985.
 
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Freddie and Jim at the start of their relationship.
 
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What Jim described as ‘sparring partners’ with Freddie on Queen’s ‘Magic’ tour 1986.
 
More photos of Jim and Freddie, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.01.2017
09:51 am
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This head of a serial-killing bandit has been preserved in a jar since 1841
05.19.2017
09:36 am
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This is the head of Diogo Alves. Don’t be fooled by his seemingly placid, almost benign, yet surprised look. Diogo was a robber and a brutal serial killer who murdered some seventy people between 1836 and 1839, at the Aqueduto das Águas Livres (Aqueduct of Free Waters) over the Alcântara valley in Portugal. Diogo robbed his victims then tossed their bodies over the side of the 213-foot high aqueduct. At first, the local police thought this rather staggering number of inexplicable deaths were copycat suicides. When access to the aqueduct was closed to prevent any more “suicides,” Diogo formed a gang and turned his attention to the homes of the valley’s population. After a raid on the house of a local doctor, where Diogo murdered four of the people inside, he was arrested and sentenced to death by hanging in February 1841.

His execution coincided with the rise of the bogus science of phrenology. It was suggested by physicians that Diogo’s head be preserved in formaldehyde for examination in order to determine whether there were any signs or abnormalities in the shape of his skull that could explain why he committed such terrible crimes. This may seem utterly fantastic today, but it’s worth noting that the scientific desire to find some physical cause for behavior is not new. As recently as just after the Second World War, American scientists obtained sections of the brain removed from the skull of executed Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. This gray matter was examined in a bid to ascertain whether there was any physical cause to Il Duce’s anti-Semitic and racist beliefs.

Diogo’s well-preserved head still remains in a glass jar at the University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Medicine.

See more pictures of Diogo’s head and the aqueduct where he committed his crimes here.
 
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A portrait of Diogo Alves from 1840.
 
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Photo: Rafaela Ferraz.
 
See more pictures of Diogo Alves’ head, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.19.2017
09:36 am
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